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Mission Statement

CAP was founded in 1990 to act as an advocate for the arts, serve the public by providing services and resources for county artists and arts organizations, and encourage collaboration among arts, education, business, civic and government organizations.Learn more

Helping the Arts Grow!

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Who We Are

CAP Today


Center Ithaca Atrium

The Community Arts Partnership was founded in 1990 to serve as the arts council of Tompkins County, providing technical assistance, grant opportunities, and professional services and information to artists and arts organizations, as well as public programs that celebrate and support the arts community in the county.

Over 20 years later, Tompkins County's arts council continues to act as one of the driving forces behind the vibrant arts community that makes Ithaca and our surrounding towns and villages a jewel of the Finger Lakes.

To date, CAP has helped to distribute more than $2.5 million in grants and fellowships into the hands of artists, arts organizations, and community projects, bringing the arts more fully into the daily lives of the citizens of Tompkins County.

Major support for CAP comes from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency, and the Tompkins County Tourism Program.


A Brief History of CAP


Clinton HouseThe Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County, Inc. was incorporated as a New York State not-for-profit corporation on November 9, 1990 following an 18-month effort to create a new arts council after the demise of the predecessor organization, the Arts Council for Tompkins County, in the spring of 1989.

The effort was organized as the Community Arts Coalition and was spearheaded numerous arts enthusiasts and community volunteers drawn from business, government and the arts. Coordinating the Coalition's efforts was CAP's first executive director, Richard Driscoll.

The Community Arts Partnership would be a service agency assisting existing, new and emerging arts organizations and providing services and programs appropriate to the artists community. The new arts council would not duplicate nor engage in competitive programming. It would be supported financially by the business community with commitments of significant support from local businesses as well as commitments from the Tompkins County government and the New York State Council on the Arts. The name of the new organization encapsulates its mission placing the arts at the center, the community as the lead interest and with partnership as the approach by which the mission is achieved.

For much of its early history, CAP resided with a number of the community's arts organizations on the first floor of the historic Clinton House, a restored 19th century grand hotel just a block from the Ithaca Commons. The Hangar Theatre's administrative offices, the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, the Kitchen Theatre, the Ticket Center and, for a time, the Ithaca Opera, all shared space at the Clinton House beginning in 1995.

Robin Schwartz, current Program Director, joined CAP in 1993, She recently celebrated her 20th anniversary at CAP.  Brett Bossard, past Executive Director, came on board in 2007.  Kit Wainer, bookkeeper has been around since 1998. In August 2013, John Spence became the third Executive Director of CAP. 

Ticket Center EntranceAs organizations grew, use of the historic structure became increasingly difficult to manage, and, after a new group of owners purchased the building from Historic Ithaca (its rescuer and caretaker since the 1970s), CAP joined the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, Hangar Theatre, and Downtown Visitor Center at our current home inside Center Ithaca, at the heart of downtown.

Since moving to Center Ithaca, CAP has continued to expand programming and services. Joining our existing grants, services and programs (such as the Greater Ithaca Art Trail and Artist Markets) are:

  • The CAP ArtSpace, featuring monthly exhibitions by Tompkins County artists
  • The Workshop Series for artists and arts organizations
  • The Annual Spring Writes Literary Festival
  • A new and improved
  • A new and improved
  • An online Artist Registry
  • An Artist consultant program